Relationship goals: 6 things you should never change for a partner

Here are six things experts say you should never feel compelled to change for your partner


Amna Hashmi September 29, 2016
PHOTO: BUSTLE

If there is one thing we should all aim for when seeking love, it’s to find a partner who accepts us just the way we are. Settling for anything less will set you up for heartbreak. As compiled from The Huffington Post, here are six things experts say you should never feel compelled to change for your partner.

1. Relationships with friends and family

If your partner loves you, they’ll make an effort to at least like your friends and family, said Christine Wilke, a marriage therapist in Pennsylvania. That means no pouty faces when you propose dinner at your folk’s place and no sarcastic remarks when discussing your friends’ ongoing relationship troubles. “You can’t give up special friendships or relationships with family members at the behest of your partner,” Wilke explained. “It’s going to be hard to have a truly authentic relationship with your partner if they force you to pick sides.”

2. Your imperfections

We all have a unique, particular set of flaws that have shaped and defined our lives. A partner worth your time and energy will find a way to love all of those, says psychotherapist Betsy Ross. “Seeing only the very best features and ignoring the not-so-flattering parts of a person is not helpful,” she claimed. “No person in a relationship can sustain such perfection or high standards for long.”

If your significant other can’t recognise that you’re both imperfect, flawed people, the cracks will eventually begin to show. “The shoes left in the middle of the floor, the dishes in the sink and the thoughtless comments made will eventually become impossible to ignore,” Ross added. “It can wreak havoc on your relationship if either of you has refused to acknowledge the other’s imperfections and humanity.”

3. Values

In your quest for a quality relationship, never compromise your core values. According to divorce coach Kira Gould, real love is based on people being transparent and true to whom they are. “Trying to be someone you’re not for the benefit of your partner is tiresome,” she said. “It’s not sustainable over time. In particular, changing or compromising on your values or beliefs is a no-go.”

Changing your stances on the big issues like self-respect, family, integrity, spirituality or economic security, just to match your partner’s creates resentment and often, a break up. “Most of us share a basic human tendency to want to be loved and accepted but this desire should not be at the expense of our true self,” Gould said. “There is nothing more intoxicating than being fully accepted.”

4. Life goals

The goals you had before meeting your significant other shouldn’t shift. Sure, you may come up with shared dreams and visions as a couple but those should never supersede your big life goals, said family therapist Amy Kipp. “If you’ve always been career-oriented, your partner should encourage decisions that support your career,” she shared. “If having children is something you have always dreamed of, you shouldn’t let go of that to make a partner happy. These are the issues that you should be talking about along the way, so you can each determine if your goals align.”

5. Qualities that make you unique

Before your friends introduce you to someone in their circle, what do they say about you? How kind and considerate you are? How quick-witted and funny you are? Whatever your unique qualities are, don’t let them go dull for the sake of a relationship, said Marni Feuerman, a marriage and family therapist.

“If you have been told that a certain unique characteristic is a positive asset, don’t change it for the one person who criticises it,” she advised. “Maybe you are outgoing and friendly but this makes your partner jealous. Perhaps you’re free-spirited but your partner gets infuriated by your lack of planning.”

If your partner feels that something about you needs to be “fixed,” consider it a big red flag. “If they feel that way about you, I’d think long and hard about your future together,” Feuerman said.

6. Your passions

You love sports or volunteering after work but lately, you’ve been putting those on the back burner in favour of couple time. In the early, heady days of a relationship, your priorities are bound to shift. Still, don’t let your passions take too much of a backseat for your budding relationship, said psychologist Debra Campbell. “Your partner may be one of the great loves of your life but it’s vital to hold onto the other great loves in your life too, the hobbies, work or interests that light you up and make you feel passionate,” she stated.

In fact, focusing on your passions will ultimately benefit your relationship. “Doing what you love fuels desire and joy,” she said. “It means you’re at your best and most attractive to your partner and to yourself. Never dismiss the things that give you personal pleasure.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2016.

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